(Despite being bitten by a dog whilst campaigning on election day)
Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com
Alison Hernandez has retained her role as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly for the next three years.
The Conservative candidate was re-elected to the role with an increased majority on her 2016 win after counting on Monday.
Incumbent Hernandez was being challenged by Labour’s Gareth Derrick, the Liberal Democrats Brian Blake, and Stuart Jackson of the Green Party, and she came agonisingly close of a first round victory, scoring 49.97 per cent of the votes, just short of the 50 per cent required.
After the second round of voting, which concluded at 10.44pm, after counting for the first round started at 9.30am, she increased her majority to 65.2 per cent, up on the 51.1 per cent she won in 2016 with.
In her victory speech, she set out her stall for Devon and Cornwall to become the safest place in England and to get police officers back on the streets.
She said: “I am elated to get the opportunity for three more years. We have become the second lowest crime area since I came in to office and we want to get to number one, so I want to work with the communities to get there. We want to be so intolerant and create an environment so hostile to crime we stay at number one as well.
“We have to get the officers on the street. We have 317 of the 498 recruited and we want to get them out on the street and on foot patrol and the community needs to see that visibility and that investment on the streets where they live.
“We have had a promise from Government for more than the 498 coming so we have to make sure we get our fair share of that and we will do all we can to ensure we have a sustainable budget, so I am confident that we will be fine.”
She added: “The biggest thing is about reopening front desks and police stations. We already reopened Newquay last year, Tiverton is next in Devon, but I think a few stations in Cornwall are keen to see reopen again, with Penzance particularly and a few others waiting to see if there is support for them.
“Tiverton has a lot of community support and will reopen this year by the autumn and the next thing is to get those police on the street. Rural communities expect those police back on the streets and it will be the chief constable’s number one objective.”
And she continued: “I’ve got an ambitious plan to make us the safest place in the country – we’re already second but I want to get to number one. I need the community’s help to do that and you’ve started that journey this evening by voting for me and I want to thank everyone who took their time to go to the polling station.
“I am looking forward to addressing the community’s priorities and starting work on my next Police and Crime Plan. As we emerge from the pandemic I am heartened by the resilience that our communities have shown and how well Devon and Cornwall Police have engaged with the public, and I intend to build on this approach over the next three years.”
In the first round of vote, Hernandez received 247,173 votes (49.97 per cent), with Derrick on 99,894 (20.2 per cent), Blake on 88,318 (17.8 per cent) and Jackson on 59,242 (11.9 per cent).
Vote share for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats was up on 2016, with Labour slipping back, while the Greens didn’t stand last time.
After the second round of voting, Hernandez had 275,217 votes (65.2 per cent), compared to Derrick’s 146,979.
Turnout was up on 2016 – 36.7 per cent compared to 22.1 per cent – although slightly impacted by the fact there were only elections in Exeter and Plymouth taking place at the same time five years ago.
The elections were due to take place in May 2020, but were postponed for a year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning that Ms Hernandez will only serve a three year term to return to the usual electoral cycle.